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Carol asked...

My sister has travelled to south africa, She is in a non malaria zone until 6th April when she enters mozambique. Her nurse has told her to start malarone one day before she travels at the beginning of her holiday. Her friends are taking them one day before they enter the malaria zone. should she take them now or when she travels to mozambique on the 6th? thank you

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The Answer

It’s usually recommended that all anti-malarials are started before you get to the malaria zone and continued throughout your trip and for some time after you come back. However, the timings of how long before travel you start your medication varies between different anti-malarials. For instance, for one anti-malarial called Mefloquine, it’s recommended that you start taking your tablets 3 weeks before you travel. Because quite a lot of people get side- effects from this treatment, it’s also recommended that you take a 3 week trial before you leave the UK if you haven’t had them before, in case you get side-effects. This may be why your mother’s nurse was recommending that she starts the medication before she leaves the UK. However, Malarone is not associated with the same risk of possible side-effects as Mefloquine. Certainly if she’s taken these tablets before without problems, I would recommend that she starts Malarone one to two days before she enters Mozambique rather than taking them for the whole time she is in a non-malarious zone.

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